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Our friends over at Streaking The Lawn, Virginia's SB Nation site, were kind enough to answer our questions concerning Virginia and give us some insight into their football program, and what we can expect to see on Saturday.
Clearly this is not the season Virginia fans had in mind coming into the season. Last season you all played Auburn in the Chick-Fil-A bowl and this season you sit at 2-5 and must win 4 of your remaining 5 games to earn a bowl berth. Where did you/your fan base expect to see, and how do you see the rest of the season going?
Fans expected a step back from last year's success. Most folks recognize that many bounces went our way last year, an that the Chick-Fil-A Bowl was overachievement for us. I think most people expected this year to be a 7-5, or at the very least, a 6-6 kind of season. No one saw the Hoos at just two wins at this point in the season. To be completely honest, many are wondering if Virginia can pull off even one more win between now and December. Bowl hopes are out the door and the only question is whether there will be any shakeup in the coaching staff at the end of the season.
Both Phillip Sims and Michael Rocco have seen time at quarterback this season. In your opinion, who should be the starting quarterback for this team?
There is no easy answer to this question. And frankly, I'm not sure I do have an opinion on this. People have seen Michael Rocco and know what he is capable of based on his starting last year and most of this year. Unfortunately, many agree that Rocco,while he has the ability to be consistently good, has a ceiling as to how far he can take the Hoos. On the flip side, while Sims has been relatively untested, there's so much hype surrounding this Alabama transfer that people are holding on to the hope that he can make Virginia something great, despite the fact that he hasn't quite wowed on the field just yet. Someone suggested in our comments what I really think could be the solution: Rocco gets the start, Sims gets significant closer duties.
Virginia is allowing 33 points per game this season compared to just 23.8 last season. What are the main reasons behind this?
The main reason is that with the loss of those like CB Chase Minnifield and DE Cam Johnson, among many others, to graduation last year, UVA's D was looking mighty young and experienced this year. The bulk of the defense is comprised of sophomores and freshmen, and it's tough to maintain a high caliber when you're working with that amount of youth. A 56-20 blowout to Georgia Tech didn't help our cause. Virginia is also turning the ball over and penalizing themselves more so than last year, and are among the very bottom of the country in this regard. Careless mistakes like this will lead to opponents scoring points, no matter how you cut it.
What are the key matchups to the game? What battles do you think Virginia must win if they want to beat Wake Forest on Saturday?
I don't even know who is playing for you guys this week and who is not, so matchups are a little tough. I'm terrified of your receiving corps. Michael Campanaro's 400+ receiving yards on the season, if he is healthy enough to return, is going to give the young Virginia safeties all sorts of fits this Saturday and it will take a strong showing by the D line to keep the pressure on Tanner Price -- something I think they're completely capable of doing based on the second half of the UVA-Maryland game, but also something they could completely botch, based on the rest of our season. Even if Campanaro isn't back to full strength (I don't know how his recovery process is going...wait, isn't that why we do these Q&As? Aren't you supposed to tell me this?), Price has proven that he's got other receivers out there who could light it up, such as Terence Davis, who had a big day against Maryland.
Finally, how do you see the game playing out?
The Hoos are in the midst of one of the worst seasons in recent history, which really says something. Not only has Virginia suffered five straight losses, but these losses have come at the beginning of the season against completely winnable teams -- Louisiana Tech, Duke, Maryland. There's no reason the Hoos shouldn't be 5-2 right now, or at worst 4-3 (with the extra loss coming to Louisiana Tech). Talent-wise, I think Virginia should be able to beat Wake, but I'm a little worried about the mental game, especially if the players' mentality matches that of the fans at all. Wake Forest wins by 3 (27-24) and half the things in my house get broken by the end of Saturday.
Thanks again to Brian Leung from Streaking the Lawn for taking the time to answer our questions.
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